It’s Freezing — Not!

We woke up yesterday to an unhappy surprise. A puddle—a big puddle—was forming at the foot of our upright freezer in the basement.  We had heard a few strange, scattered noises coming from that area the day before but couldn’t tell where they were coming from and didn’t think much of it until we saw the water on the floor and then—uh-oh!defrosting-the-basement-freezer

When we bought that freezer almost thirty years ago we were dirt-poor and felt we couldn’t afford the frost-free model so, over the years, I periodically had to defrost it. I admit I had not tackled that job lately and now we had a big mess to show for it.  Bless my dear husband’s heart—he loaded up all the food down there in coolers and spent several hours defrosting and cleaning it all up.  The bad news at the end was that there would be no fixing the problem.  We weren’t about to spend a couple hundred dollars on repairing a thirty year old appliance.

Fortunately we had caught the problem before the frozen foods had begun to thaw. I rearranged things in my freezer upstairs and managed to squeeze a bit more in up there.  We pitched a few things that had been stuck in the freezer too long anyway, and my mom was able to fit the rest in her freezer until we could come back for them.  Then Bob went shopping for a new freezer.

He called home from the first place he stopped to tell me about what he had found. I was surprised at how much a simple upright freezer cost these days.  “You know,” I said as I stood in my kitchen staring at my refrigerator/freezer (that is also thirty years old), “if we have to spend that much on a freezer, I’d rather spend a little more on a new refrigerator, and take this old one downstairs.  I’d rather have extra refrigerator space, and a little less freezer space.  We don’t want stainless steel and all the bells and whistles, so maybe it wouldn’t cost much more and would be a better way to go.”

He shopped around and found something he liked. Our new refrigerator will be delivered tomorrow.  I have mixed feelings.  It will be nice to have a new, bigger refrigerator in my kitchen, and more refrigerator space downstairs.  My upright freezer was seldom more than half full, so I think I can get by with a little bigger freezer upstairs and a little smaller one downstairs.   On the other hand, spending money on a large refrigeratorappliance purchase wasn’t something we wanted to do right now with all the other expenses coming up this year.  Not to mention that my washer and dryer are also thirty years old, and we’ve been praying the air conditioning through every summer the last few years, too, so it’s only a matter of time until we’ll have to replace them, as well.   Hopefully, maybe they’ll break down one at a time so we’ll only have to replace them one at a time!

But in everything give thanks! I’m thankful that we have refrigeration in this country and at this time.  There are millions (billions?) around the world who still live without this modern convenience.  Although ice was used from the mid-1700s through the 1800s, it wasn’t until the early 1900s that electric refrigeration was available for home use.  And it is with a grateful heart that I thank God for the food filling my refrigerator and freezer—so much, in fact, that I need more space for it.  I cannot complain about my appliances growing old and having to replace them.  The Lord graciously has given me far more than many in this world.

I had five or six boxes of sugar-free fudgesicles in the freezer downstairs. I recently bought them when they were on sale and I had a really good coupon for them.  Fudgesicles are the quintessential girly-girl’s snack,Fudgesicle3_1_jpg939f690b-0c0d-4608-996d-05eacd516f71Res200 in my humble opinion.  Refreshing, low-calorie and, best of all—chocolate!  Of all the things in my freezer that I was most concerned about as I saw Bob bringing the coolers of food upstairs, it was my fudgesicles.  After all, there is nothing worse than a lukewarm fudgesicle!  Mushy, messy, falling off the stick—ick!

Really, lukewarm anything is seldom good.  A cold drink of water—aah, refreshing!  A nice hot shower to wash away the aches and pains of the day—oh, yeah!  But lukewarm water—what good is that?  One of my pet peeves is trying to serve the food I have labored to prepare at its correct temperature—either hot or cold–only to have the meal delayed and the food become lukewarm.  Ugh!  Even Jesus had something to say about the subject.  He said to the church at Laodicea, “I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and lukewarmneither cold nor hot, I will spew thee out of my mouth.” (Revelation 3:15, 16)

The Laodiceans had become complacent, apathetic in their faith and comfortable—too comfortable— in their material wealth.  “Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked.” (v. 17) They boasted of their riches, yet Jesus said that they were spiritually poor.  Their city was known for its eye salve and fine wool, and yet Jesus called them spiritually blind and naked.  The Laodicean church was a real New Testament church of the first century, and yet this message from Revelation is meant for our twenty-first century churches as well—and to those individual Christians who have allowed themselves to become lukewarm in their love for the Lord and indifferent and lazy in the Commission to which He has called us.

Jesus went on to say, “I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.” (vs. 18, 19) There are three things, He said, that will remedy lukewarm hearts in our lives and within the church.

First He says, “buy of me gold, tried in the fire.” Gold is refined by fire. The Word of God refines spiritually. The words of the Lord are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times.” (Psalm 12:6) Sometimes it takes the refining fires of testing to bring us back to the place where our hearts are right with Him once more. And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried: they shall call on my name, and I will hear them: I will say, It is my people: and they shall say, The Lord is my God.” (Zechariah 13:9)

The remedy, He goes on to say, for our spiritual nakedness is to buy of Him “white raiment.” It was His shed blood that clothed us in righteousness when we accepted His salvation in the first place. I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness.” (Isaiah 61:10) He made us a new creation in Him at the time of our salvation. When we have lost that first love, we need to remember that, repent, and renew our commitment to righteous living. “And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.” (Ephesians 4:24)

Finally, Jesus says, “anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.”  We are saved from the darkness of sin, and our blinded eyes are opened to the Gospel and the wonderful things of Christ. When we become lukewarm to Him, however, and slip back into the world, we are blinded once more. “According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust… But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins.”  (II Peter 1:3, 4, 9)  We have the true Light of the World if we only open our eyes to Him and let Him reveal to us our sin and turn back to Him. “For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” (II Corinthians 4:6)

The water supply in Laodiciea had to travel traveled several miles to the city through an underground aqueduct. By the time it arrived to the people it was dirty, foul and tepid.  When Jesus likened the people of the church in Laodicea to lukewarm, nauseating water that he wanted to spew—not just spit, but actually vomit—out of His mouth, they got the message.

The Greek word for “hot” used in this context is “zestos”, meaning “boiling hot.” It is also used in Romans 12:11 and refers to spiritual zeal or fervor, a zealousness for the things of the Lord.  Hot water, too, has a healing, soothing effect on the body.  We can see why Jesus said He would rather that we be hot than lukewarm.  It may seem strange, then, that He said He’d even prefer that we be cold to lukewarm, but cold water is refreshing and invigorating.  The Laodiceans were neither hot nor cold—they were nauseating and useless.

I don’t want to be nauseating and useless to my Lord!!  Do you?   Let us be refined by His Word.  Let us return to righteous living, forsaking the temptations of the world.  Let us open our eyes to our backslidden ways and repent.  Jesus went on to say in Revelation 3:19, 20, “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.  Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.”  And I am sure when Jesus comes in to dine with us, the meal will not be lukewarm!  It will be just right!

rev-3-201

Spring Chickens

My sister told me that I am not old this week!  She also told me that I need to quit thinking of myself as spring chickenold.  Well, Cheree, when you’ve been married forty-five years, have thirteen grandchildren and are six months away from being eligible for Medicare—you’re no spring chicken!  And this old hen has lost the spring in her step—and a whole lot of other things, too!

But bless her heart, Cheree was giving me a pep talk, encouraging me to pick up the pace, get in a more “youthful” frame of mind, and get ready to keep up with all those grandchildren when they come home this summer. I needed her encouragement, too, because I have become much too used to my quiet (read lazy!) lifestyle, and allowed myself to play the old card—on myself!  And she is correct—being older in years does not mean we have to be older in outlook.  As the old saying goes, “You’re only as old as you feel.”

oldSo thanks to Cheree I have resolved to start working on how I feel, but oooh—I feel every one of those aches and pains! And I can’t see worth a hoot; sometimes I think I can’t hear, either; I wobble when I walk; and I lose my car in the parking lot after spending twenty minutes in the store.  To top things off, Bob put a grab bar in my tub/shower this week because he worries that I will fall.  I am thankful for his protection and care, but yeah—it made me feel very senior citizen-ish.

And to top that, we hit a milestone this week.  We started the process of signing up for Medicare and decided on the supplements we will take out to cover what Medicare does not.   Bob turns sixty-five in just a couple weeks, and I will follow later this year.  Actually, strangely enough, turning sixty-five and being eligible for Medicare is something I have looked forward to for a long time since we have not had health insurance for the last eight or nine years.  At last I can start getting some of the things fixed on this no-spring-chicken body that need to be fixed!  And God has graciously answered my prayers, so far, that nothing catastrophic would happen to saddle us with monstrous medical bills before Medicare kicks in, for which I am very grateful.Medicare

I have often said that in this day and age, if you don’t have health insurance you might as well live in the 1800’s as far as medical care is concerned. We have amazing science and technology and pharmaceutics available, but who can afford the astronomic costs on their own?  So yes, I will be delighted to receive Medicare.  It is good to remember, however, that our lives and our needs on up into our senior years, are in the omnipotent, loving hands of God.

Our security does not come from Social Security.  We cannot put our trust in dividends or retirement funds for our provision.  Our physical health is ultimately in God’s hands whether we have insurance or Meidcare or not.  He does not forget us when we get old.  In fact He says that the lives of His children, from youth to old age, are in His watchcare.  The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord: and he delighteth in his old11way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the Lord upholdeth him with his hand. I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread.  He is ever merciful, and lendeth; and his seed is blessed.  Depart from evil, and do good; and dwell for evermore. For the Lord loveth judgment, and forsaketh not his saints; they are preserved for ever: but the seed of the wicked shall be cut off.  The righteous shall inherit the land, and dwell therein forever. (Psalm 37:23-29)

Yes, we face new and often more difficult challenges as we age, but God is faithful and walks with us through every ordered step of our life’s journey. He will not forsake us, even when we might feel alone or sick or feeble.  “…for He hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” (Hebrews 13:5) He, not the government, is our refuge in times of trouble.   “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” (Psalm 46:1)  What a blessing and comfort to turn to the God of the universe in times of calamity and know that He loves us and holds us close! “Be merciful unto me, O God, be merciful unto me: for my soul trusteth in thee: yea, in the shadow of thy wings will I make my refuge, until these calamities be overpast.” (Psalm 57:1)Don't worry

Putting our trust in God for our anxieties about getting old frees our minds to be at peace.  “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.” (Philippians 4:6-8)  When I am not thinking about how old I’m getting and all the aches and pains and other difficulties that come with it, I can “think young” again and go on to enjoy life.

I appreciate Cheree’s encouragement and support. I love having a husband who is young at heart (and young in physical fitness, too!) who keeps me giggling like a school girl and wants to keep me young at heart, too.  And I am thankful for my loving Father who has it all under control and will see me through the rest of my life’s journey.  I may not be a spring chicken—but I’m still kickin’!

old fun

old9

The Heart of a Mother

I’ve had several discussions this week with various friends and loved ones about motherhood. The fact that this week is Mother’s Day wasn’t really a factor—several issues just happened to pop up.  The topics ranged from “the seasons of a woman’s life” to “a mother will always be a mother no matter how old her children are” to “meeting the individual needs of each very unique, individual child in the family” to “motivation and discipline of said children.” Older mothers, new moms, mothers from other races and cultures, stepmoms, adopted mothers, grandmothers—we all have the same concerns: doing the very best we can for those precious lives entrusted to our care.

I am the mother of three—two beautiful daughters and one beloved special needs son. I have two dear, godly sons-in-law and am the grandmother to thirteen wonderful, amazing grandchildren, ranging in age from one to twenty-two.  My life’s journey has taken me through difficult pregnancies and childbirth; adoption; raising really easy girls and a challenging little guy; seeing those cherished daughters leave for mother-means-that-your-heart-is-no-longer-yours-e1431110451753college and then on to marry and start families of their own; sitting by the bedside of our precious son for years, often wondering if he would live to see another year; to being a long-distance mom and grandma, separated by thousands of miles from the children and grandkids—who are always nestled close in my heart.

My girls both have large families with their own unique challenges. Laurie has seven children, with the youngest two years old and the oldest already twenty-two years old.  We were just speaking the other day of how overwhelming it can be at times, and how it pulls at a mother’s heart, when all seven have concerns, problems, or just need attention from a loving mama at the same time.  Most of Julie’s children are grown, or almost grown, too, but they’ve started over with a baby, and are prayerfully considering adopting one or two more.  Blending their mixed family has been a rewarding challenge in itself, and each child has brought his or her own issues to weigh upon her mother’s heart.

mother'sheartMy mother is eighty-five years old and I am sixty-four. You would think my mom would have realized I am a senior citizen now!! But no, to her I am still her child.  She wants to feed me when I go over to her place, or jump up to get me a drink.  When I spend the night there once and a while, she thinks I should go to bed at 9:00 PM like she does.  She tells me to button my coat, not to try to carry too much at once, and to remember to take my medicine.  She just can’t help herself—she has the heart of a mom.

The wonderful women in my life—mom, daughters, sisters, friends, aunts, cousins—we all share the same heart, regardless of the season of our life or our station in life when we have children—and that is the heart of a mother.  How our hearts rejoice at each milestone and achievement in the lives of our children!  How we treasure the happy memories, the sweet moments, the sentimental declarations of love from our children in our hearts!  How our hearts ache at the childhood hurts, the teenage struggles, the disappointments our children of any age suffer.  How our hearts break when we are separated from them, or when tribulation comes to our children!

I think of Mary, the mother of Jesus, when I think of a mother’s heart. When the angel proclaimed to her maryjesusthat she had been chosen to bear the Son of God, her heart praised God, but don’t you think it must have been in turmoil, as well?  She believed, oh yes, she believed, but she was just a young girl with very human emotions.  Can you imagine the wonder, the fear, the joy, the uncertainty that swirled within her heart?  Then on the night of Jesus’ birth, after the angels had brought the glorious message of a Savior born in Bethlehem, and peace and goodwill to men on earth, and shepherds rushed to the stable to worship the babe, the Bible tells us that “Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.” (Luke 2:19)  Eight days later when they took baby Jesus to the temple, they met there an old man named Simeon who testified by the Spirit that Jesus was the salvation for all men. Mary marveled in her heart at what was said about her child. (Luke 2:21-35)  When the wise men came and worshipped her baby boy, I am sure her heart overflowed with joy; yet when Herod sent soldiers to search for her baby and slay him, and in the process slew many other little babies instead, how her heart must have been overwhelmed with grief. (Matthew 2)

The years passed and the Bible tells us that Jesus “grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was upon him.” (Luke 2:40) Can you imagine being the mother to this perfect child?  The responsibility must have lain heavily upon her; perhaps there were even times her heart felt unworthy of the task.  Her young son was sinless and perfect, but there did come a day when her heart was filled with fear and she was even upset with Him.  Luke 2:41-52 tells the story: “Now his parents went to Jerusalem maryjesus3every year at the feast of the passover. And when he was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem after the custom of the feast. And when they had fulfilled the days, as they returned, the child Jesus tarried behind in Jerusalem; and Joseph and his mother knew not of it. But they, supposing him to have been in the company, went a day’s journey; and they sought him among their kinsfolk and acquaintance.  And when they found him not, they turned back again to Jerusalem, seeking him. And it came to pass, that after three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions. And all that heard him were astonished at his understanding and answers. And when they saw him, they were amazed: and his mother said unto him, Son, why hast thou thus dealt with us? behold, thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing. And he said unto them, How is it that ye sought me? wist ye not that I must be about my Father’s business? And they understood not the saying which he spake unto them. And he went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject unto them: but his mother kept all these sayings in her heart. And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.”  Mary kept all these things in her heart and watched as Jesus grew into an amazing man.

No one understood just how very amazing her son was, however, as Mary did. She knew what He could do, and at the wedding in Cana her mother’s heart wanted others to recognize it, as well. (John 2:1-11)  Although He performed that first miracle of His public ministry, turning water into wine, He told her His time had not yet come.  How then her heart must have grieved when the people of their own hometown of Nazareth mocked Him in their unbelief. (Mark 6:1-6) And that horrific day when her beloved son was maryjesus2nailed to the cross and crucified before her eyes! “Now there stood by the cross of Jesus his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son! Then saith he to the disciple, Behold thy mother! And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home.” (John 19:25-27) Jesus knew her mother’s heart was breaking and one of His last thoughts before He gave up his life on the cross was for her care.

Although our children are far from perfect, as Mary’s son was, I think we can understand her mother’s heart.  The feelings of awe and trepidation when we hold that first precious baby in our arms.  The pride and joy when others gather to welcome him or her. The doubts, perhaps, of our worthiness when we realize the magnitude of the job before us and the responsibility we hold in our hands for that child’s life.  The burdens and fear at times as we traverse the childhood illnesses, injuries and concerns for our children’s safety; the heartache when our children suffer emotional wounds; the grief and sorrows that sometimes break our hearts.  The delight in their accomplishments, the relief when they turn out well after all (!) and the pleasure and satisfaction in seeing them go on to begin life as adults and start families of their own (bringing us the reward of those precious grandchildren!)

Our hearts are not so very different than Mary’s heart, or the hearts of mothers around the world. I am thankful for the mother God gave me, who invested her whole heart and being into loving and raising and supporting me and my sisters and brother, teaching us what a godly, loving mother ought to be.  I am thankful for my daughters who have turned into amazing mothers themselves with hearts that follow after God and are bringing up their children, my awesome grandchildren, in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

Let our hearts be like Mary’s—whole-heartedly His, pure, trusting, courageous, steadfast, wise. May our mother’s hearts be hearts after God’s own heart, examples that our children will follow as they learn to love and walk with Him.

mothers-heart

Mothers-Day-Facebook-Photos

 

 

 

 

 

Bunkin’ Down

Every time I talk to the younger grandkids these days one of them is sure to ask, “Did you get them yet, Grandma?” They’re talking about the bunk beds we are planning to get sometime in the near future.  The Lord willing, we will have both of my daughters’ families here this fall, so short of moving to a bigger house (and that ain’t gonna happen!) we need to squeeze in some more beds.  We have three empty bedrooms—very small bedrooms—but with nine in Laurie’s family (who will be here for three months) and eight in bunks1Julie’s family, we are going to have to make the most of those small spaces.

I am hoping to borrow, or buy inexpensively, two sets of twin-over-twin bunk beds and possibly one twin-over-full bunk bed set.  We’ll be able to put four kids in one room and three girls in the other (the third bedroom is for their parents.)  That’s a lot of beds to bunksbuy all at once—but it’s cheaper than moving!

The discussion this week between Bob and me has been metal vs. wood.  He wants to get wood.  I think metal would be better.  Because the rooms are so small, metal will probably take up less room, and, actually, visually will not look as bulky.  Not to mention that metal will not get as knocked up and scratched as wood, and from my research, I think we can get nice sturdy metal beds for less money, as well.

Most kids will try anything to get out of going to bed—or staying in bed—when that time rolls around.  There’s always the old “I have to go potty!” excuse, or “I need a drink!” or “I forgot to tell you something” or “I heard something scary” or…  You know—the list goes on and on.  I’m hoping the bunk beds will make going to bed fun for my grandkids—well, at least until the novelty wears off!  I can just hear the giggles and whispering now!  I actually found a verse about kids in bunk beds—“For they sleep not, except they have done mischief; and their sleep is taken away, unless they cause some to fall.” Proverbs 4:16.  (Just kidding—beware of those who take Scripture out of context!)

I guess the point ought to be that the kids get some sleep—not mischief and mayhem! Why is it what we so detested as kids, now sounds awfully good to us now as adults?  I admit I am a night owl, but still, when I finally crawl into bed at night, it feels pretty doggone good.  Sleep is a good thing.  Psalm 127:2 says, “It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows: for so he giveth his beloved sleep.”  Like a little kid, though, I just don’t want to miss out on anything fun!

Sleep-night_watchesAfter a busy day, we adults are usually ready to fall asleep fairly easily. The Lord tells us, though, to meditate on Him, when we lie in bed at night. “My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness; and my mouth shall praise thee with joyful lips: When I remember thee upon my bed, and meditate on thee in the night watches.  Because thou hast been my help, therefore in the shadow of thy wings will I rejoice.” (Psalm 63:6-7) Whether we’re remembering His blessings of the day before, or bringing the cares that keep us tossing and turning to Him, we can find rest in Him.

Meditate in the midnight hour:

When thou liest down, thou shalt not be afraid: yea, thou shalt lie down, and thy sleep shall be sweet. (Proverbs 3:24)sleep4

I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep: for thou, Lord, only makest me dwell in safety. (Psalm 4:8)

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. (Matthew 11:28)

Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.  (Isaiah 26:3)

Return unto thy rest, O my soul; for the Lord hath dealt bountifully with thee. (Psalm 116:7)

Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with you all. (II Thessalonians 3:16)

Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day; (Psalm 91:5)

I laid me down and slept; I awaked; for the Lord sustained me. (Psalm 3:5)

Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof. (Matthew 6:34)

sleepArise, cry out in the night: in the beginning of the watches pour out thine heart like water before the face of the Lord: (Lamentations 2:19a)

 

And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. (I John 5:14)

Praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, (Ephesians 6:18)sleep1

But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. (Psalm 1:2)

Oh how I love your law! It is my meditation all the day. (Psalm 119:97)

My eyes are awake before the watches of the night, that I may meditate on your promise. (Psalm 119:148)

Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth! (Psalm 46:10)

Commit thy works unto the Lord, and thy thoughts shall be established. (Proverbs 16:3)

sleep2

At my age, I’m a little beyond mischief and mayhem at midnight, but meditating on God’s Word is always right and good!

Shaken!

It was just a week ago when Ecuador, a country that is near and dear to my earthquakeheart, suffered a 7.8 magnitude earthquake. The toll has been devastating—654 dead thus far; around 16,600 injured; 58 still missing; 7000 buildings destroyed; more than 25,000 people living in shelters.  During this last week there have been more than 700 aftershocks and several strong tremors, one measuring 6.1 on the Richter scale.  Experts say the tremors will continue for weeks, earthquake3possibly months, to come.

My daughter’s family lives in Ecuador where they are missionaries. The earthquake occurred on the coast, about three hours from where the Naranjos live in the Andean mountain city of Cuenca.  They felt it, and continue to feel many of the aftershocks, but Cuenca was spared the destruction that the coastal region suffered.  Although other parts of the earthquake1city were shaken more strongly, for the most part, the Naranjos’ home—and their nerves—have only been rattled.  Many from their city, including the Naranjos, are donating supplies and some of their friends who have special skills or equipment are going to the stricken areas to help.

earthquake4One story, however, struck particularly close to home for the Naranjos. One of the men in their church is a Gideon. Ivan is often gone on Sundays because he is in other churches sharing the ministry of Gideons, which focuses on Bible distribution. Last weekend he was supposed to go to a three day meeting of the Gideons on the coast and present some reports. He called Fernando a few days before and told him he would not be in their church on Sunday.  Normally that is fine and they appreciate and understand Ivan’s work in the Gideons, but this time earthquake2Fernando asked him if there was any way at all he could get out of going.  They were having a very special service on Sunday and Fernando really wanted Ivan to be there. Ivan called one of the other Gideons and told him he would not be at the meeting because he felt he needed to be at his own church.  A couple hours later the man called him back and said they had decided to postpone the whole weekend because they really needed Ivan to be there to give his reports. It turned out that the house where the meeting was to be held was flattened like a pancake during the earthquake at the exact time the Gideons would have been meeting. Most likely, all those meeting in that house would have been killed.  As it turned out, six of those men who lived on the coast did lose their homes, but praise the Lord for His protection of these Gideons who faithfully try to spread His Word!

As the week wore on, Laurie came to the point where she could not even watch the reports anymore. They were too heartbreaking and she could not get past the thought, what if that had been our family in the midst of all that devastation? How would we provide for our children?  What would we do?  As Christians, of course, we know that God is in control and that we can, we must trust in Him, but we have all wondered how we would deal with the day to day hardships in such a tragic situation.

Thousands on the coast of Ecuador are struggling with the reality of those questions as their lives have crumbled around them. Life for most of them, who were already in poverty, has become a thousand times more difficult. The new normal for many weeks, months and perhaps even years to come will be trying to cope with the death, destruction, devastation and despair the earthquake left behind. We can only pray that from it many will turn to the Lord for strength and comfort and that eventually, as they rebuild, the result will be better than what they had before.

It only takes an instant for our world to change, perhaps even to crumble. When it happens – not if it happens, for one way or another we will be touched by change – will we crumble along with it? Are our foundations strong enough, our roots deep enough, to withstand the earthquakes of life? We sometimes go through life waiting for the other shoe to drop and fearful of that day when life will no longer be normal and we will be faced with the unexpected, the unthinkable, the unknown. Are we prepared?

A big part of the problem in Ecuador was the poor construction of the buildings and infrastructure in the earthquake-stricken areas. If our lives have weak foundations we will be hard-pressed to withstand the major trials and changes of life. Jesus said that He is the foundation upon whom we ought to build our lives. Luke 6: 47-48 says, “Whosoever cometh to me, and heareth my sayings, and doeth them, I will shew you to whom he is like: He is like a man which built an house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock: and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could **-not shake it: for it was founded upon a rock.” When we have given our lives to Him, and truly trust Him to do what is best for us, we can live our lives without fear now and face with peace and hope whatever comes in the future.

If I ever have to face such a terrible calamity as this, I pray my faith would remain strong. Whether it wavers or not, though, I know this one thing, He is faithful and will never leave me or forsake me.   (Hebrews 13:5b)  Who knows what a day will bring forth? God knows. We can choose to look forward to the future with expectancy and hope, as my husband likes to say, or we can live fearfully, afraid of whatever will rock our world. I like life at “normal,” but when it goes off-balance or crumbles altogether, may my foundation hold.  “Truly he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.” (Psalm 62:6)

shaken pslam-62-6

Overwhelmed!

It’s springtime—at least on the calendar—and that means weird weather. This last week has certainly showed us a little of everything—beautiful, warm days that give us hope that winter has finally lost its grip; snow flurries that say uh, not exactly. Nice breezes, gale-force winds.  Drizzles, showers, downpours.  Today we are supposed to go from a low of 27° to a high of 63°.  Crazy.

Yesterday it seemed like Mother Nature could just not make up her mind. I had spent the night at my mother’s.  When I left to run a few errands on my way home it was overcast and a few snow flurries were gently falling.  When I came out of Walmart the snow had stopped but the wind was kicking up and it felt colder.  By the time I got to Meijer’s it seemed to be clearing up and a beautiful rainbow hung in the sky.  I came out of Meijer’s and it was overcast again.  I was less than a mile from home, though, when I saw something I had never seen before.

The street was dry, but up ahead a few blocks there seemed to be something strange on the road. I peered through the windshield, trying to discern what I was seeing.  A line of white appeared to be across the road, and as I drew closer to it, it seemed to be approaching me—fast.  Above it was a wall of white. What is that? I wondered.  The wall looked like maybe a cloud of fog hung right there on the road, but it was moving too quickly.  That line of white on the street—could it be…?

I did not have long to wonder. Within a block or two I drove right through that wall and into whiteout2a blizzard—and not just a blizzard, but a complete whiteout!  One second it was clear and the road was dry, and the next I could not see the sides of the road or the cars around me.  I felt like I had been suddenly swallowed up in the Twilight Zone.

Most blizzards begin with a few snowflakes, then a few more, and escalate into something big. This was first nothing and then BAM!  I had crossed the line into the midst of that something big.  I knew I only had about four blocks to go before I could turn off that street, and then another block and a half to get home. I proceeded cautiously.  I could see headlights of oncoming cars coming out of the white as they got close, and fortunately I was able to pick out the traffic light just before I crossed under it.  The building on the corner where I needed to turn loomed out of the murky white, and once I had made the turn and did not have the blizzard driven directly into my windshield, it was a little easier to navigate the rest of the way.  By the time I got home two minutes later, the worst was over, and by the time Bob got the groceries into the house the whole storm was over.  The blizzard had blown over almost as suddenly as it had appeared.

It took me a while, however, to shake that odd sensation that I had of feeling as if I had been swallowed up in that wall of white. I likened it in my mind to what one would feel if they were suddenly engulfed in a tidal wave, or had stepped blindly into a deep chasm. Overwhelmed.

Most of us have felt overwhelmed at one time or another. We try to juggle too many things, and we feel like we can handle it until one day—we can’t.  Or the problems keep piling up—and piling up.  Or just one big catastrophic calamity lands suddenly in our lap.  Or we are sinking in a world of hurt.  Whether everything has come crashing down around us, or overwhelmed5we’ve been buried in stress, crushed beneath the weight of sudden disaster, or submerged in heartbreak, we are overwhelmed.

The Israelite army ran and hid, overwhelmed, when they were confronted with the Philestine giant named Goliath—until a shepherd boy came along, and with God at his side, slew the giant. (I Samuel 17) There is no Goliath too big for God.

King Jehoshaphat and all of Judah were overwhelmed when the great army of an alliance of nations marched against them until God told them “Be not afraid nor dismayed by reason of this great multitude; for the battle is not yours, but God’s.” (II Chronicles 20:15) Don’t worry! It’s not your battle, but Mine! There is no battle over which He cannot claim the victory.

When Elijah was so overwhelmed with depression that he wanted to die, God ministered to him through an angel. (I Kings 19)  He provided for his physical needs—rest, food, comfort—and for his emotional needs as well, speaking to him to tell him of a helper and support—and hope. There is no need that He cannot fulfill.

The disciples were overcome with fear when a great storm suddenly threatened to sink themPeaceBeStill-1145annJMJ. When they woke Jesus, however, He calmed the storm with simply His words, “Peace, be still.”(Mark 4:36-41) There is no storm He cannot calm.

Noah and his family might have been engulfed in the Great Flood. (Genesis 6-9) Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego could have been consumed in the fiery furnace. (Daniel 3) But there is no fire or flood through which He does not carry His own.

The Scriptures contain many promises that bring comfort and peace and hope to us when we are overwhelmed. Here are just a few:

In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.  (John 16:33)

overwhelmedCast your anxieties on him, for he cares for you.  (1 Peter 5:7)

From the end of the earth I will cry to You, When my heart is overwhelmed; Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.  (Psalm 61:2)

The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything. but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  (Philippians 4:5-6)

When my spirit was overwhelmed within me, Then You knew my path. In the way in which I walk They have secretly set a snare for me.  (Psalm 142:6)

Come to me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.  (Matthew 11:28)

Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me.  (John 14:1)BeStillAndKnowThatIAmGod

There is none holy like the LORD: Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. For there is none besides you; there is no rock like our God.  (1 Samuel 2:2)

Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass. (Psalm 37:5)

But Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”  (Matthew 19:26)

Be still, and know that I am God.  (Psalm 46:10)

 

Do not be swallowed up—overwhelmed—by the cares of this world. He has promised to never leave us or forsake us. (Hebrews 13:5)

Never leave or forsake

Resurrected–Pure and Simple

I am “resurrecting” a blog this morning from April 3, 2010. It was called “Pure and Simple.”  The beauty of Easter is just that—pure and simple…

********

I went out to run errands yesterday. It was a rather cool spring day, but it was nice to be out in the sunshine nevertheless. The most important thing on my list was to get all the fresh fruit I would need for the fruit salad I was taking to Easter dinner at my sister’s house. Everything else on the list was pretty mundane – paper towels, toilet paper, vitamins, toothpaste and so on. But, ooh – maybe I would find a pretty new blouse, too, to wear tomorrow. Hmm…  (Got the fruit, but nothing new to wear.)

* As I drove I had the radio tuned to WMBI, the radio station of Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. I enjoy much of the Christian programming that comes out of WMBI, whether it is music, teaching, preaching or just talk. Saturday afternoons are devoted to music, and not surprisingly, yesterday the program was all Easter music. It was a nice blend of old hymns, favorite popular Christian songs that I have enjoyed for decades, and some of the newer beautiful songs that are currently being played on the radio.

* As I listened to the lyrics about the cross, the empty tomb, a risen Savior, love, grace and gospelvictory, a deep feeling of contentment and joy came over me. This is what Easter is all about, I thought – the Gospel, pure and simple. That Christ died for our sin, was buried and rose again. I thought of I Corinthians 15: 1-4. “Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; by which also ye are saved… For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures.”

* The Gospel – pure. The plan of Father, Son and Holy Spirit since before the foundations of the world that the sinless and beloved Son of God would take upon Himself the sin of the world and pay the penalty of our sin – the redemption of blood. “In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace; Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence; Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself: That in the dispensation of the fulness Tombof times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him: In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will.” (Ephesians 1:7-11) The plan that included victory over death and sin and Satan for all eternity. “O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (I Corinthians 15:55, 57)

* The Gospel – simple. So simple that there is nothing left for the sinner to do to receive that redemption but to believe. “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.” (Romans 10:9) So simple that even a little child can believe. So simple that we have only to become as little children and open up our hearts – and simply believe. “Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child shall in no wise enter therein.” (Luke 18:17)

* The beauty of Easter is not in a pretty spring day. It is not in a church filled with lilies or tulips or daffodils. It is not in lovely spring dresses or new shoes. It is not in a basket full of colored eggs and chocolate bunnies. It is not in a table laden with ham and fruit salad and cheesecake, and not even in the family and friends gathered ‘round that table. The beauty of Easter is in an old rugged, blood-stained cross, and a rough-hewn stone rolled away from an empty tomb. The beauty of Easter is in the love of a Father who gave His beloved Son, and the love of a Savior who gave His everything.

It is as pure and simple as that.

easter